The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, will welcome one of North America’s largest African-American Christian groups and a hit gospel/R&B singer on an unprecedented trip to Israel this month, as part of The Fellowship’s bridge-building between blacks and Jews.
Twenty-two leaders of the Bahamas-based Global United Fellowship (GUF) led by GUF Presiding Prelate Bishop Neil C. Ellis of Nassau, the Bahamas, will be visiting Israel Sept. 19-26, touring ancient Christian and Jewish holy sites from the Galilee to Jerusalem.
Among their stops will be the Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee, the Wailing Wall and the Old City of Jerusalem, and archaeological sites such as Caesarea, Mount Tabor, and Megiddo. The church group will also visit Fellowship projects that support Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants and the elderly and visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, and the Holocaust History Museum.
“We are grateful and blessed to be hosting this incredible group of African-American church leaders,” said Rabbi Eckstein. “Together we will see Israel up close, to be moved and inspired and to gain a new understanding of our shared histories.”
Among the first-timers to Israel will be multiple Grammy nominated and award-winning Gospel and R&B artist, the Bishop Rev. Marvin Sapp, of Ada, Michigan, whose record-breaking albums include “I Win,” “Here I Am” and “Thirsty.” Among his hits are “Best In Me” and “Never Would Have Made It,” which remained #1 on Gospel and R&B radio for over a year in 2007 and sold more than 2 million cellphone ring-tones.
In addition to being an award-winning musical artist and author, Sapp is also an active philanthropist who founded the Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology, the first such charter school in West Michigan.
For the past few years The Fellowship has been building bridges with African-American Christians, fostering new ties based on historic relationships forged in the Civil Rights era. In recent months The Fellowship and black church leaders have worked together to vigorously advocate for Israel against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, and jointly protested instances of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity.
The 125,000-member GUF, with over 600 churches in the U.S. and around the world, is the fourth major African-American church group to visit Israel over the past year with The Fellowship, which previously hosted the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) – the movement of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. – and the National Baptist Convention of America (NBCA).